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Why Grace is More Liberating Than You Believe

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Senior pastor for 35 years, 27 of them at James River Church in Springfield, MO, which has four campuses and weekly attendance of 16 thousand people

Author, Soul Set Free, (Charisma House, 2019)

Married to Debbie

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Sitting on a plane years ago, John Lindell got to thinking about God’s grace and realized that he knew grace as a concept, a definition, but felt he was missing something as it applied to his life.  He’d preached about grace for decades, seen its affects in his life and countless others, yet still felt his grasp of it was incomplete.  The more John thought about it, he came to the conclusion that his understanding of the gospel itself must be lacking, since grace is at its heart.  As a competitive, rules-oriented thinker, he realized he was still trying to earn God’s approval rather than rest in the fact that grace is a gift that cannot be earned.  Since then, he’s made it his aim to study what God says about grace in His Word, primarily in Romans, chapters one through eight.  There he found wonderful truths that he expounds, such as grace being unlimited, unearnable, and liberating to our souls.      

“We can define it and still not understand it,” John says.  He explains that there are a number of reasons why believers today don’t really understand grace.  Three of them are:  Seeing their relationship with Christ as rules-based, suffering from self-condemnation, and simply being tired of relating to God through self-effort.  He goes on to say that grace isn’t taught sufficiently by many pastors today because they’re afraid of giving license to sinful behaviors.  John says that we’re often not taught the incredible depth of what God has done for us in Christ, where we find the true meaning of grace.  He also believes that we limit the gospel to the forgiveness of sins, while it’s also about continual sanctification, and ultimately, glorification in heaven.  As we come to understand and dwell upon these truths, he says we find liberating joy that helps us treat others they way He would have us, think of ourselves rightly, and know we are fully accepted by God.  

What John most wants to get across is this message: “No matter who you are or what you’ve done, there is grace for you.”  From his many years as a pastor, he understands that many Christians have given up on themselves, but wants them to know that God has not and will never give up on them.  The answer, he believes, will not be found in the preaching of many pulpits today, which produces a “me-focused,” self-consumed perspective of faith, but a return to the biblical focus on the Lord and his perspective on all things.  

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